May 14, 2020

NDDC: Senate probe in conflict with ongoing forensic audit, says, anti-corruption group

The Senate

The Senate

By Joseph Erunke

ABUJA-AN accountability advocacy group, Citizens Quest for Truth Initiative, said the probe initiated by the Senate into the financial activities of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, was wrong given that the forensic audit ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari was ongoing.

It described the action of the Senate as an affront to the directives of the president, who instituted the forensic audit.

The Senate President, Ahmed Lawan had on Tuesday, explained that the investigation being carried out by the Senate into the finances of the NDDC was to complement the ongoing forensic audit which was ordered by the president.

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But the group, in a statement signed by its President and National Publicity Secretary, Obiaruko Ndukwe and Francis Ndimkoha, respectively, faulted the timing of the probe committee set up by the Senate, insisting that the action of the Red Chamber was not in good faith.

It noted that “to a large extent, the Senate is not only setting up a conflict of interests with the Executive but also, indirectly raising objections to the forensic audit”.

” Citizens Quest For Truth Initiative wishes to reiterate her surprise as the unusual interest of the National Assembly in the tenure of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), as expressed in our last press release,” the group said in the statement.

The statement read further: “Citizens Quest, as an accountability advocacy group, would have ordinarily welcomed the probe committee set up by the Senate on 13th May 2020, but considering the timing, it is hard to accept.

“This is not for any other reason but the fact that there is currently an ongoing forensic audit, instituted by President Buhari, on that commission. It is, therefore, a surprise that the Senate would rather probe an organization already being probed by an arm of the same Government”.

“Citizens Quest believes that the Senate could as well move a motion to the effect that whatever area of their interest, if not covered by the terms of reference given to the forensic auditors.

“We are worried that the IMC will rather be distracted in their mandate to the Niger Delta, faced by various probe teams. This is inimical to the development of the region, which the Senate claims to favour.

“This probe, coming at a time the commission has taken delivery and about to distribute Covid19 Test kits and set up test centers in the 27 Senatorial districts of the region, is anything but well-intended.

“Again, we are shocked that a Senate that has refused to lend to the clarion call by Citizens Quest and other stakeholders in the Niger Delta region, for urgent attention and completion of the abandoned East-West highway. This is a flagship project of the region, which is now comatose.

“We yearn for an effective NDDC, probably, more than any other individual or group has done in recent times, and we urge the Senate to support the speedy conclusion of the Forensic audit while allowing the IMC the needed concentration to function”.